Chest

8 Cable Crossover Alternative Exercises For Chest Strength

cable crossover alternative

More often than not, an effective chest day workout includes the cable crossover.  

And why not, using a cable machine is a great way of isolating your chest muscles so you can build bigger and stronger pecs.  

But let’s assume you don’t have access to a cable crossover machine or you’re simply not a fan of the exercise.  


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In which case, stick around as we’re going to be looking at what makes a great cable crossover alternative for the ultimate chest gains.

Before that, let’s look at the cable crossover exercise in a bit more detail.

What Are The Benefits Of The Cable Crossover

Three key things stand out the most for us when doing the cable crossover and are what make it such a great exercise.

Firstly, it’s an isolation exercise.  

This means you can properly target those chest muscles without much involvement from other muscle groups like your shoulders, back, and biceps.  

This can help you work more on the definition of your pectoral muscles and focus on certain parts of the chest that might get overlooked during other exercises like the bench press.  

cable-crossover

Secondly, the resistance applies constant tension to your chest muscles.  

When you compare the cable crossover to some free weight exercises, the resistance gets more challenging as you bring the cables together with your muscles working their hardest at the top of the movement.  

This is different from something like dumbbell flyes (and other exercises that involve free weights) as the resistance tends to drop off either at the top or bottom of the exercise.  

When tension is applied to your muscles throughout the entire range of motion this will lead to greater strength gains and muscle hypertrophy.   

Finally, it’s versatile.  

By setting up the cables to move at different angles you can place emphasis on certain parts of your chest.  

For example, if you set the cables lower down and then pull them up, this will put more emphasis on your upper pecs.  

On the other hand, setting them high and pulling them down will increase activation of the lower portion of your chest.

You can also set the cables to pull them forward in a straight line which is a great starting position for working the whole pectoralis major.  

What Makes For The Best Cable Crossovers Alternative

cable crossover chest fly

The best alternatives to the cable cross-over will involve fly movements.  

That’s not to say pressing exercises, like push-ups or bench pressing don’t work your chest effectively as they definitely do.  

But, these kinds of exercises require a lot of engagement from other muscles like your shoulders and triceps to complete a full range of motion.  

When performing a fly-type exercise the triceps and shoulder muscles do come into play but much less so which means more recruitment of your chest muscles.  

Incorporating a range of chest exercises into your chest workout is the best way of maximizing muscle growth.  

As long as the movement can engage the muscles and develop each side of the chest equally, and above all else, you enjoy it, then add it to your chest routine.  

8 Cable Crossover Alternative Exercises For Chest Development

We’ve put together our list of the best cable crossover alternatives to help you build a bigger and stronger chest.  

The bench press is a classic compound exercise for working the chest muscles but setting up on an incline bench so that you press from an upright position shifts more of the emphasis onto your mid and upper chest.  

It’s also going to work several other muscles across your upper body including your core, back, delts, and triceps. 

It does require strict form and is a more challenging alternative compared to the cable crossover.  

Your stabilization muscles have to work hard to help you lower the bar to your chest and you’ll be utilzing plenty of explosive power to press the barbell back up.  

incline-barbell-bench-press

Here’s how it’s done. 

  1. Sit on the bench and ensure your back is fully supported with feet planted on the ground. 
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together for stability and then press the barbell up overhead. 
  3. Inhale and brace your core while you bend your elbows to lower the bar towards your upper chest
  4. Once the bar reaches your chest, exhale and use power to press the bar back to the starting position.

The banded chest fly follows a similar movement pattern to the cable crossover making it a great alternative.  

So, if you want something as similar as possible to the cable crossover exercise but don’t have access to a cable machine, grab some resistance bands as this is the one for you.  

The primary target muscles with this one are the pec major with the secondary muscles being the shoulders and triceps.  

When performing it you should concentrate on using your upper back muscles to drive your arms back and away from the midline of your body while keeping tension on your chest.  

How to do it:

  1. Anchor your chosen band to the top of a doorway. 
  2. Adopt a staggered stance placing one foot in front of the other, you should be facing away from the door. 
  3. Take hold of the ends of the band and pull your arms back bending at the elbows. 
  4. Squeeze your chest and triceps and extend your arms down pressing against the resistance. 
  5. Use control to move your arms back to the start and repeat. 

To do the machine pec fly you’ll need access to a pec deck machine.  

It’s a great way of training the muscles of your chest and shoulders making it a good cable crossover alternative.  

Doing it on a machine allows for a fixed plane of motion which can make it a safer option compared to using a pair of dumbbells.  

What’s more, tension tends to remain on your chest muscles throughout the range of motion without dropping off at the top of the exercise.  

If you can access this machine in your commercial gym, make sure it’s set up properly to prevent excessive stress on the shoulder joint.  

Be sure that your arms can move comfortably from the midline of your body and out wide to the sides.  

chest exercise using pec deck

How to do the machine chest fly:

  1. Choose your desired weight and set the height of the seat. 
  2. Sit and keep your feet flat on the ground with your back firmly against the pad.  
  3. Stretch your arms out to the sides and take hold of the handles. 
  4. Exhale and draw your arms together across your chest and towards your sternum. 
  5. Your arms should naturally maintain a straightened position. 
  6. Pause for a second and squeeze your back muscles before moving your arms back to the starting position. 
  7. Reset your breathing and then repeat. 

When doing the dumbbell chest fly you’ll probably find you have to work hard to fight the effects of gravity during the eccentric phase of the movement.

This adds an extra challenge making it a highly effective yet simple cable crossover alternative with dumbbells.  

You can easily vary this exercise by performing a decline dumbbell fly and an incline dumbbell fly both of which will impact different parts of your chest.

Doing the fly on an incline will elicit a better response from your upper chest whereas performing them on a decline bench so your head is lower than your chest will target more of your lower chest.  

Take care not to strain your shoulder joint performing this exercise which can be quite common.  

Keep a slight bend to your elbows as you move through the exercise and concentrate on proper form.  

chest exercise using pec deck

How to do the dumbbell chest fly:

  1. Lie back on a bench with your glutes, upper back, and head fully supported. 
  2. Place your feet past hip-width apart. 
  3. Holding a pair of dumbbells, extend your arms straight up so they’re pointing towards the ceiling and directly above your chest. 
  4. Exhale and fly your arms out to the sides while keeping a slight bend to your elbows. The dumbbells should remain parallel with your upper body.
  5. Brace your core and chest and drive your arms across your chest taking the dumbbells back above your chest. 
  6. Pause and repeat. 

The cable press around is a unilteral exercise so you’ll be working one side of your chest at a time.  

This makes it perfect for working on any imbalances and, as it follows a similar movement plane to the standard cable crossover, it’s a great alternative.  

How to do the cable press around:

  1. Set the cable pulley so its around hip height and stand so it’s behind you and just out to one side. 
  2. Adopt a split stance and take hold of the handle with the hand closest to the pulley. 
  3. Brace yourself by holding on to the cable machine with your free hand. 
  4. Create tension in your upper chest and move your arm up and inwards in an arc motion. 
  5. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you do this.  
  6. Lower back to the start and then repeat.  

The best thing about push-ups is how accessible they are.  

All you need is your bodyweight and a bit of floor space and it’s one of those ‘do anywhere, anytime’ exercises making it a popular cable fly alternative at home. 

The wide grip variation involves placing your hands past a shoulder-width distance.  

This puts way more tension on your tension while reducing it from your shoulders and triceps.  

Pay close attention to your form and use control to lower your body to the ground.  

Perform reps to failure to properly stimulate the muscle fibers of your chest.  

standard-push-up-exercise

How to do a wide grip push up:

  1. Get yourself into a high plank position.  Keep your hands outside of your shoulders and rest on the balls of your feet. 
  2. Don’t let your hips sag but equally, don’t raise them either – keep your body in a straight line. 
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground.  
  4. Pause for a second then push through your palms back to the start and repeat.  

This is one of the best exercises for focusing on that all-important mind-muscle connection.  

It’s super easy to perform and a great way to finish your chest workout.  

You can increase the time under tension on your muscles by increasing the amount of time you hold the dumbbells making it a great alternative to cable crossovers. 

When it comes to the weight, stick to around half what you can typically perform 5 to 8 reps to.

When doing an isometric hold it’s important to include plenty of dynamic exercises as well to effectively stimulate the chest muscles.  

How to do it:

  1. Take hold of your dumbbells and lie back on a flat bench. 
  2. Make sure your head, glutes and back are all supported. 
  3. Hold the dumbbells with an overhand grip in the bottom position of a dumbbell press. 
  4. Your elbows should be bent to 45 degrees and upper arms parallel to the floor. 
  5. Simply maintain this position for around 60 seconds or so.  

While not easy to do, dips are one of the best chest developers you can do with consistent tension applied to your chest muscles throughout the entire range of motion.  

You can perform it as a bodyweight exercise to begin with and when you get stronger, throw on a lifting plate and a weight plate or two for effective progressive overload.  

chest dips

​How to do chest dips:

  1. Take hold of the dipping bars with a neutral grip so your palms face each other. 
  2. Extend your arms and lock out at the elbows. 
  3. Cross one foot over the other to give you some stability. 
  4. Keeping your elbows in, start to bend them so that your chest lowers towards the bar. 
  5. Try and get to a point so that your arms are bent to 45 degrees. 
  6. Use power to push back to the start and repeat. 

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve given you the rundown on our favorite cable fly alternatives you’ve got plenty of options for your chest training.  

But remember, the key is to maintain variation when it comes to your chest workouts.  

While it may be tempting to stick with what’s been working, repetitive routines can lead to stagnation in progress.

Muscles need stimulation in different ways to effectively grow.

By incorporating a variety of exercises that engage different muscle groups and offer varied ranges of motion, you keep your chest muscles challenged and primed for growth. 

Introducing new and targeted exercises into your routine ensures that your muscles remain active and responsive, promoting continuous progress and development.

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